Saturday, February 27, 2010

More Anti-Science Stupidity from Non-Scientist

Here is yet another "oh those nasty scientists" rant from the senior managing editor of the New English Review, Rebecca Bynum. Some highlights:

The high priests of scientism, from Stephen Hawking to Richard Dawkins... illustrates one of the most clichéd tropes: castigate scientists by using religious language. Honestly, can't the science haters come up with something new? This one is really getting boring.

For example, science can describe the effects of electricity, but it cannot tell us what electricity is any more than it can tell us what life is or what gravity is. This poor woman obviously did not attend 10th grade science, or she would know that electricity consists of a flow of electrons. And heck - philosophers can't even give a perfect definition of the word "chair", so why should Ms. Bynum expect one for "life"?

And if pattern does not exist in mind or as mind, then where does it exist? Utterly moronic. Pattern exists as a configuration of atoms and molecules. I wonder what she thinks differentiates hexane from dimethylbutane.

Islam is, in essence, an extremely materialistic religion with many similarities to secular materialism: both remove human dignity and envision man as a slave. Right - all the materialists I know are slaves, and no slaves were ever enslaved by Christians.

Language alone, with its well neigh infinite complexity, were it genetically based, would logically require an immense amount of genetic space. And if language cannot be found in our genes, how could art or culture be found there?
Ms. Bynum must be horsing around - "well neigh" indeed. And what Ms. Bynum thinks of as "logical" is far from it. She's throwing around terms like "complexity" and "genetic space" with no understanding.

Ms. Bynum's real beef is that science has shown that man is an insignificant speck in an enormously large universe. Man is the product of evolution from those inferior "animals". Them's the facts, Ma'am, and none of your agonizing is going to change them. It's time to grow up.

33 comments:

Danny said...

I would just like to let you know that I get great pleasure from reading your blog. Please keep up the good work.

Valhar2000 said...

I wonder what she thinks differentiates hexane from dimethylbutane.

Easy there, cowboy! Shorten them words! How's she 'sposed to talk if'n she don't even understand what yer sayin'?

Michael said...

This is delicious! In one short article I think she highlights everything that's wrong with a "dignified" old world mystical thinking that tries to pin itself to an intellectual foundation. I'll be doing a post on my own blog taking this apart in more detail, thanks for the fodder!

Filipe Calvario (from Brazil) said...

Before, Creationism. Now, the new trend seems to be accusing of Scientism every person who doesn't ignore scientific evidence while trying to construct his/her view of world.

Anonymous said...

n-hexane from 1,4-dimethylbutane ? or?

was the chair a reference to Feynman?

jah

Miranda said...

"Honestly, can't the science haters come up with something new? "

Honestly, can't people like you come up with something better than "science haters"?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Miranda:

As usual, you're a crashing bore. It must be really hard work to be so consistently uninteresting.

Miranda said...

That's the kind of response you normally give when you don't know how to respond intelligently.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

google search:

"science haters": 7180 hits
"science hater": 630 hits
"science-hater": 802 hits

"high priests of science": 198,000 hits
"high priest of science": 532,000 hits

As usual, Miranda is both boring and wrong.

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

It may be argued that what man believes himself to be determines not only his conduct, but the substance of what he feels is possible, thus determining the scope of art and culture

So is she going to argue that, or not? This appears to be just a lame way of presuming something without even bothering to argue it.

Miranda said...

I could find at least 8312 sites that promote wacko sects of religions. So you found that many who like the phrase "science hater(s)." Good job!

And you changed "high priest(s) of scientism" to "high priest(s) of science" for some strange reason.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Poor Miranda - still struggling with reading comprehension.

In my OP, I wasn't addressing the exact phrase "high priests of scientism", but the general concept of using religious language to castigate science and scientists.

Miranda: still wrong, still boring, still unable to read.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

I must confess I am looking at the comments to your posts to find Miranda's responses and have a laugh. (And I'm disappointed if I don't see any.)

Keep up the good work Miranda and I won't have the need to look for new jokes elsewhere on the Internet.

Miranda said...

Well, you're still unable to comprehend that many people critique what they consider bad science, yet all you're able to say is that they're anti-science.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Well, you're still unable to comprehend that many people critique what they consider bad science, yet all you're able to say is that they're anti-science.

Miranda, you sound exactly like a creationist.

Arthur Hunt said...

From the article itself:

"It can describe the patterns of atoms and molecules, but it can no more predict that one hydrogen and two oxygen atoms combined would create water, ..."

WTF??? No matter how you parse this, the statement is stupid beyond my ability to comprehend.

lampofdiogenes said...

This article by Rebecca Bynum infuriated me beyond words. I wrote a completely intemperate and over-the-top response to Bynum's fake deceitful anti-scientific fundamentalism.

Brief Summary of my thesis:

Anti-science fundamentalists say that there's a thing called "materialism" (basically, an accurate description of science's previously solved problems) and this "materialism" bogey inspired Nazism, fascism, communism; and, says Bynum, "materialism" also inspires Islamic terrorists. Therefore, scientists and secular humanists are equivalent to terrorists.

Back on flat Earth, I quote Islamic terrorists and extremists who state quite clearly that they hate secularism and materialism and evolution for the same reasons as Christian fundamentalists; and their values, in their own words, are the same as US anti-science fundamentalists.

Anti-science fundamentalists say that support for secular government, separation of church and state, and previously solved scientific problems (like evolution or electricity) destroy the value of human life and dignity; so scientists want to enslave people.

Back on flat Earth, I quote Christian theologians who used Biblical literalism to support slavery from the early 19th. century into the Bush administration.

And can someone please explain to me why fundamentalists feel weirdly compelled to lie about long-solved scientific problems and say they're not solved? I mean, Bynum's saying scientists don't know what electricity is?

I mean if they said scientists don't know what dark energy is, I could understand. But WTF, fundamentalists seem to have some kind of uncontrollable OCD compulsion to lie and say problems solved a hundred years ago can't be solved! I mean, electricity? Combination of hydrogen and oxygen? WTF is wrong with these people? Is this an OCD compulsion or what!?

You can read my intemperate and over-the-top blog posting here. I may edit it and tone down the language later; read it now while it's still furious.

Miranda said...

"Miranda, you sound exactly like a creationist."

Well you sound exactly like an evader.

Creationists are wrong about many things in science, but that doesn't make them anti-science. Similarly, I'm sure you and I can point out many so-called historians who suck at history, but it just wouldn't be accurate to call them anti-history. It would less than accurate. It would be dumb.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Miranda:

Thanks for providing extra material for laughs!

Creationists are wrong about many things in science, but that doesn't make them anti-science.

It certainly makes them stupid. And, being stupid, well, is not entirely a plus for science.

I can point out many so-called historians who suck at history, but it just wouldn't be accurate to call them anti-history.

Well, if these historians used the Bible as their source for history, then, surely they would be doing dis-service to the discipline of history.

This is precisely what creationists do!

Diogenes said...

When Miranda says creationists are not anti-science, she is judging them by their marketing, not by the effect of their actions. By this standard, Miranda would also say Toyotas' sudden acceleration problems were a tiny problem ONLY caused by defective floor mats-- because that was the company's public claim.

Instead, let's judge creationists by the effect of their actions, not their dishonest statements.

If by science you mean "science-as-a-human-institution", the creationists certainly are anti-science: their literature is filled with claims that science-as-an-institution is a Darwinian thought police, fascist storm troopers; scientists are stupid, incompetent, bullies, terrorists, etc. etc. Even in that article by Bynum, she compares evolutionists to Islamic terrorists. Can Miranda really claim that the many, many, many creationist statements comparing scientists to 9/11 terrorists are not anti-science?

If by science you mean "science-as-an-investigative activity", they are certainly anti-science, for two reasons. First, they have a long history of claiming that unsolved problems can never be solved. e.g. Michael Behe claiming that no future investigation could ever explain the evolution of V(D)J recombination in immune system; which was shortly afterward figured out. There are many more examples of this. Such statements discourage people from investigating unsolved mysteries, and are effectively anti-investigation.

Secondly, they also oppose "science-as-an-investigative activity" because they falsely divide science into two fake categories: "real science" (they mean technology, computers, airplanes and such) and "origin science" (evolution, molecular biology, astrophysics, Big Bang, relativity etc.) They try to separate out the science they suck at from the science they REALLY suck at, because the latter gives highly reliable answers that are inconvenient for their divinely "infallible" human leadership.
Furthermore, they falsely claim that "origin science" is more prone to bias. Such statements are anti-science-as-an-institution ("You're all biased!") and also anti-science-as-investigation ("If origin science is just bias, why bother doing research in it?")

If you define science as "a bunch of observed facts and the theories that fit the facts best", then they are especially anti-science. When facts don't go their way, they simply make facts disappear by saying the facts were produced by research fraud. They all tell schoolchildren that geologists date fossils by the geological strata they're in, and they date strata by the fossils in them--circular logic! They all say radiometric ages of the Earth are due to "selective reporting", i.e. research fraud; and Andy Schlafly accuses Lenski (E. coli evolution) of fraud; and Dembski accuses Schneider (evolution program) of fraud) etc. etc.

And lastly, they are anti-scientific-fact when they claim that problems solved decades or centuries ago, are unsolved. We see in Bynum's article that she says scientists don't know what electricity is, or how hydrogen and oxygen combine. This is anti-science-as-a-bunch-of-facts.

Miranda said...

"their literature is filled with claims that science-as-an-institution is a Darwinian thought police, fascist storm troopers; scientists are stupid, incompetent, bullies, terrorists, etc. etc. "

So close. The following would be more accurate:

"their literature is filled with claims that a subset of science-as-an-institution is a Darwinian thought police, fascist storm troopers; scientists are stupid, incompetent, bullies, terrorists, etc. etc. "

"Secondly, they also oppose "science-as-an-investigative activity" because they falsely divide science into two fake categories:"

I don't think the following site was created by creationists:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_and_soft_science

But thanks for your thoughtful analysis anyway, even though I disagree with some of it.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Miranda:

Creationists aren't just bad at science, they actively work against legitimate scientists and science that goes against their dogma. They undermine science and the reputation of scientists with their lies. "Anti-science" is exactly the right description. I'm sorry you can't deal with it.

Blake Stacey said...

"It can describe the patterns of atoms and molecules, but it can no more predict that one hydrogen and two oxygen atoms combined would create water, ..."

One facepalm isn't enough. A page of double facepalms is getting closer.

Miranda said...

"they actively work against legitimate scientists and science that goes against their dogma. "

Again, you missed it. Try this instead:

"they actively work against a fraction of legitimate scientists and science that goes against their dogma.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Miranda:

Again, all I can say is, you need to work on your reading comprehension.

Miranda said...

You bluff.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Miranda:

Free courses are available.

Miranda said...

Alinskyite.

Rules for Radicals #5. "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage."

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Alinksy is very popular now among paleo-conservatives, who adopt his methods while claiming the opposition does. It's exactly like the Swift boat scenario again.

JoeBuddha said...

I'm still trying to grok the "Islam is...an extremely materialistic religion..." statement. Islamic teachings come from the same source as Christian ones, and the fanatics who are blowing up themselves and others are doing so for "heavenly reward". Also, I've never been able to tell the difference between "man as a slave" and "man as a sheep", except for the fact that you expect slaves to at least think a bit.

Miranda said...

Do you think it was wise using sophomoric paleo-conservative politicians as a support?
Alrighty.

Michael said...

For those interested in further screeds against Bynum's article: http://anadder.com/bynum-stands-up-to-the-experts

I guess it really does provoke some fury, thanks for pointing it out again!

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Miranda:

You missed the point - as usual.